Why have we added Froebel to our description?
Previously on the website and on social media our short description often included "Montessori and Reggio inspired" These are both pedagogical schools of thought - they are ways of teaching and learning with young children. Maria Montessori and the schools of Reggio Emilia working with Loris Malaguzzi have particular ways of working with children that we admire and emulate.
Over the last almost three years we have developed our own way of doing things, the Deerness Valley way, and as we have tested, refined and honed the way we teach and learn together we have found we need to add another school of thought - Froebelian, after Friedrich Froebel. He is the man who coined the word "kindergarten" which means "garden of children".
After consideration and a conversation among our senior Educators we decided that the Deerness Valley way of education and working with children is very similar to the core principles of Froebel. As I've added this to our description I thought a little more information would be helpful to explain what we mean, and how this fits into what we do and who we are. We are not aiming to change what we do, but instead we are sharing that we agree with a lot of the principles of Froebelian education so that parents can get a better idea of what we do and what we value.
Froebel had 8 principles of education which you can read about here - https://www.froebel.org.uk/about-us/froebelian-principles
At the link you can see the principles are as in the list below, and I'll add our Deerness Valley Way or the name of the Value this principle is linked to in italics so you can see how we are similar.
Unity and connectedness - Everything in the universe is connected, because everything was made by a loving God. The more one is aware of this unity and of God, the deeper the understanding of oneself, others, nature and the wider world. Children are whole beings whose thoughts, feelings and actions are interrelated. Young children learn in a holistic way and learning should never be compartmentalised for everything links. (Values - We are Generous and Helpful, We are Interdependent, We are Forgiving, We are Caring and Compassionate)
Autonomous learners - Each child is unique and what children can do rather than what they cannot, is the starting point for a child’s learning. Children learn best by doing things for themselves and from becoming more aware of their own learning. Froebelian educators respect children for who they are and value them for their efforts. Helping children to reflect is a key feature of a Froebelian education. (Values - We are Respectful, We are Valuable and Valued, We are Interdependent)
The value of childhood in its own right - Childhood is not merely a preparation for the next stage in learning. Learning begins at birth and continues throughout life. (Values - We are Valuable and Valued applies here as well)
Relationships matter - The relationships of every child with themselves, their parents, carers, family and wider community are valued. Relationships are of central importance in a child's life. (Values - We are Valuable and Valued, We are Generous and Helpful, We are Hardworking and Responsible, We are Respectful, We are Interdependent, We are Forgiving, We are Caring and Compassionate, We are Thankful, We are Hopeful. We are very relationship focussed as we seek to nurture each other to become the fullest expression of who God made us to be).
Creativity and the power of symbols - Creativity is about children representing their own ideas in their own way, supported by a nurturing environment and people. As children begin to use and make symbols they express their inner thoughts and ideas and make meaning. Over time, literal reflections of everyday life, community and culture become more abstract and nuanced. (Values - We are Valuable and Valued, We are Respectful, We are Interdependent, We are Caring and Compassionate, We are Hopeful). This creativity is also valued in Maria Montessori's pedagogy, and practiced in the schools of Emilia Reggio.
The central importance of play - Play is part of being human and helps children to relate their inner worlds of feelings, ideas and lived experiences taking them to new levels of thinking, feeling, imagining and creating and is a resource for the future. Children have ownership of their play. Froebelian education values the contribution of adults offering ‘freedom with guidance’ to enrich play as a learning context. If I could meaningfully repeat this as every other principle I would do, play is one of our highest values. We spend the vast majority of our days in play, and it is only true play when it is child-chosen. This is also where we align with Maria Montessori, who felt that imagination and imaginative play were central to development. This is a core reason why we don't have a lot of "stuff" around at nursery, so that children use their imagination and their relationship skills to play and learn. (Values - We are Wonder-filled, We are Joyful)
Engaging with nature - Experience and understanding of nature and our place in it, is an essential aspect of Froebelian practice. Through real life experiences, children learn about the interrelationship of all living things. This helps them to think about the bigger questions of the environment, sustainability and climate change. This is where our practice is rooted, having set up the nursery to have foundational eco-values, and spending our time cooking local food, or food rescued from being waste, growing our own food, and more than 1000 hours outside a year. (Values - We are Hardworking and Responsible, We are Caring and Compassionate, We are Thankful, We are Hopeful, We are Wonder-filled, We are Joyful)
Knowledgeable, nurturing educators - Early childhood educators who engage in their own learning and believe in principled and reflective practice are a key aspect of a Froebelian approach. Froebelian educators facilitate and guide, rather than instruct. They provide rich real life experiences and observe children carefully, supporting and extending their interests through ‘freedom with guidance’. Our Educators are carefully chosen, highly skilled and experienced practitioners who value all of our children as unique and important.